A few years into marriage, I stopped watching chick flicks. Occasionally I’ll indulge, but it’s rare. I remember being an emotional teenager and hanging on to every word of these romances where passionate kisses in a rainstorm was depicted as the picture of love. It’s not that I’m jaded now, it’s just that I’ve come to see these movies for what they really are, and that’s fiction. The story always ends immediately after the man and woman have put aside some difference and decided to become a couple, or it ends immediately after the wedding. Let’s be honest. That’s just the beginning of a love story, and that’s the easy part. It’s easy to fall in love. I’m not impressed by seeing people fall in love, but I am impressed by seeing real life people stay in love and build a life together. Call me an old lady, but after nine years of marriage, shallow chick flicks just don’t do much for me.
What does something for me is watching Mike walk out the door 5 days a week, happily earning a living for his family. He kisses us goodbye and without a complaint he’s off to face another day. On the days he comes home and the house is a disaster and I’m frazzled and apologizing for the chaos he just walked into, he smiles and tells me my job is to take care of our son, not to keep a perfect house. He’ll ask me what we did together and when I tell him we went to story time or the park or made a craft together, he’ll gently remind me that these things are the reasons I chose to stay home as he starts picking up or vacuuming or putting away dishes. What moves me is seeing the relationship he’s so purposefully built with our little boy and watching the two of them hug and wrestle and play. To hear him say, “You’re beautiful,” and know that he really believes that on my worst days when I’m clearly not the definition of attractiveness, that gets me. These are the things the movies don’t show, but these are the things that really count.
What a sweet feeling to look down and see that the hand holding mine is still the same one it was nearly a decade ago when we said our vows. Our story is rarely one of roses and poems and the kind of traditional passion that society tells us makes a great love story. Instead, I find romance in being loved totally and unconditionally, in the acts of service that he offers daily, and in the simple fact that he’s still here. We are still here. He chooses to share the monotony of life with me. We walk through the boring and the difficult and the wonderful together. We are not the same starry eyed kids we once were, but we are better. Because anyone can feel butterflies for a season, but love that remains and that lasts through heartache and misunderstandings and sickness and loss and just the day-to-day menial tasks of life is rare. Love that continues when the novelty of marriage has worn off is a gift. Love that chooses you over and over, day after day, that’s what I now celebrate and what I esteem far above the two dimensional movie version of love.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
If this is the standard for love, then I’ve found it. And for that I am incredibly grateful.
Happy Anniversary, Mike. Thank you for sharing these years with me and for being my faithful friend through it all.